The concerns of India’s Opposition parties about the reliability of electronic voting machines are now being voiced in Botswana. The diamond-rich African nation is currently witnessing an intense debate about the use of Indian-made voting machines in its elections.
The Botswana Congress Party, the country’s main Opposition group, has moved court against its government’s move to amend laws that enabled the use of the voting machines, The Economic Times reported on Thursday.
As a result, the government and the election commission in Botswana have requested the Election Commission of India to depose before a court there about the machines’ reliability. Botswana wants the Election Commission of India to demonstrate to the court how the voting machines as well as Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machines function. On Wednesday, a delegation from the African country visited the Election Commission of India’s office in New Delhi and requested it to provide a few sample EVMs.
This is not the first time that voting machines made in India have created a controversy in Botswana. In 2017, there were news reports about the country organising a hackathon on India-made electronic voting machines after Indian political parties alleged that the devices could be tampered with.
In India, the poll panel had denied the Aam Aadmi Party’s request for a machine so that it could prove the machines can be hacked. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and other AAP leaders had argued that if Botswana could publicly test the EVMs, why couldn’t India?
However, authorities later clarified that the machines made in India were not part of the Botswana hackathon. Bharat Electronics Limited, one of the two manufacturers of voting machines, said it was only going to demonstrate how the machines function.
In India, Opposition parties have repeatedly said electronic voting machines should be replaced. On Tuesday, the Samajwadi Party called for a return to paper ballots after the Kairana Lok Sabha bye-polls in Uttar Pradesh, where the poll panel had to conduct repolling at 73 booths because of faulty machines.